View Full Version : How Long does it take to write a novel?

Flawed Creation
05-30-2004, 07:53 AM
I wanna set a goal, but i don't know enough to guess what's reasonable. right now, i just want to get my novel done, because i don't think i can write anything esle until it's done. even my homework writing has suffered since i started this novel, and i always think the history textbook authors use poor characterization.

i have a detailed outline, a solid story concept all but one of the characters nailed down (see my thread on the novel writing boards.), and some or all of chapters 0,1,2,3,4,19,20,and 22.

22 is the last chapter.

although i know a lot of this will change by the time it's done, my basic question is:

how long is a reasonable amount of time to finish this thing?

let me break it down into steps:

how long should first draft take?

completing revision, such that it is a complte and coherent novel, inconsistenceis having been resolved?

ready for submission?

i know times vary a LOT, but just an estimate?

i need a time frame so i can push myself. deadlines help my motivation.

05-31-2004, 12:56 AM
it can take a month, or it can take 10 years... it's not a good idea to set any arbitrary goals when you're so young and haven't been writing that long, and/or in that medium...

you can't reduce writing a novel down to a formula, although some seasoned writers of 'pancake' books have, after writing so many that it's automatic... they can do it, because their books are formulaic, all the same, though each a bit different... i knew bob ludlum years ago, and he said that's how he writes... but he'd been doing it for years...

your list of steps is useless, imo... it will take you however long it will take you... just keep writing till it's done, and don't try to turn creativity into mechanics...

hugs, maia

05-31-2004, 01:49 AM
How about instead of deadlines to finish a chapter or a draft, you just make sure to make time to write everyday.

ie. Monday I will write this novel for 1 hour at least.

Doing this you know that at least you are doing something. It really is impossible to know how long the entire thing will take.

You will see progression.

April :star

06-06-2004, 06:59 PM
and one with many answers. It varies based on the individual how long it will take to write a novel. I have one nonfiction book that it took me about a year to write and research. It was about 200 pages -- 6 by 9 inches.

Now I am working on my first novel and I have no idea how long it will take because to me, nonfiction is a more controlled writing experience. When creating and refining plot and characters and dialogue who knows how long it'll take me to get together the first three chapters. I hope it won't take me any longer than a year to complete this fiction project.

06-06-2004, 10:58 PM
I wrote my first one in 8 months. I wrote almost all of my second in 5 weeks. And none of that matters. Write however you feel almost comfortable. But write! Make yourself write every day, either for so long or for so many words. That way, the project will be done in whatever time is right for you.

06-09-2004, 03:47 AM
Creation, if you really need some sort of a timeframe, I can only share how I try to do it. I try to spend a week on each chapter: I freewrite the chapter's first draft (more or less knowing what it's going to be about) which can take two or three sessions, and the rest of the time, already knowing much better what's happening, I edit it a tiny bit for consistency, probably add more drama and action, more interaction between characters. Move to the next chapter. I have a general outline and as for the rest--"surprise me!" I say sitting down to write.

Euan Harvey
06-30-2004, 01:25 PM
When I was writing the first draft of my book, I used a piece of advice I'd read in a bunch of different places, namely, to set a goal each day and work to it. I set mine at 1,000 new words a day, which I think is reasonable. Sometimes it came easily, sometimes I was there for hours swearing at the monitor, but I kept working until I'd finished 1,000 words.

So my 90,000 words novel took me about 90 days. But that's only for the first draft -- then the real work starts. I'm still in the process of revising it now, and it's taking a *really* long time.

My point is there may be quite a large gap between writing 'The End' and actually finishing the book.

Good luck,


07-25-2004, 09:48 PM
Well I don't diffent people diffrent amouts. some write more than others. I'm the type who can just write for hours.I love to write. but I like to write scripts more than books. I find writing people's personailty insteresting!

08-12-2004, 09:56 PM
I think it can be useful to set arbitrary goals of you set them so they reflect what you truly do want to acheive, what you truly can acheive without screwing up some other important aspect of your life, and they are backed up with a solid intention to actually follow through.

I have recently decided to write 3000 words a day throughough August thus completing a first draft in one month. I have no solid goals re: editing and finishing. i have told many people online that I am doing this and I am trying very hard to stick with it. However if I miss one or two days in the month due to a crisis then this is acceptable and will not cuase me to give up on the whole thing.

This is a tough goal but I set it realising that I will do very little but work, walk the dog and write during this one month. So far it is working and I have 30,000 words filed away on my hard-drive, albeit many of them are typos and a few of the chapters may not make a final cut. if I had not made a firm goal I would certainly no have managed this. I guess I will deal with the rest of the finishing process one I get the first draft done.

08-13-2004, 03:40 AM
i need a time frame so i can push myself. deadlines help my motivation.


Edit: Actually, everybody's already set out all that anyone can say about the matter. You must set your own goals, whether they're number of words you type a day or the amount of time you spend a day or a combination of the two.

Somebody famous once said that novels are never finished, they're only due. Every time I look over mine--and I've been over parts of it a hundred times or more--I see things that could be different or need redone. But there comes a point where you have to stop picking at it and let somebody else have at it.


09-06-2004, 09:25 PM
"But that's only for the first draft -- then the real work starts. I'm still in the process of revising it now, and it's taking a *really* long time."

I agree. I FINALLY finished the final revision on my manuscript yesterday. The first draft took me 13 days. The revision process took me two months.